One of my wife’s best friends lives in Phoenix. I wondered why. Certainly, the winters are calmer, compared to the northern states. But temperatures of 104 and 106 make outdoors activities untenable, even with their drier climate. Many people with some money figure they can simply buy their way out of problems. Many also think these climate problems are just a short-term anomaly. My question:
How close to the edge of the cliff do you have to come
before you decide to change to a sustainable lifestyle?
o o o o o o o o
Alarm as fastest growing US cities risk
becoming unlivable from climate crisis
Some of the cities enjoying population boom are among those
gripped by a ferocious heatwave and seeing record temperatures
Wed 20 Jul 2022
The ferocious heatwave that is gripping much of the US south and west has highlighted an uncomfortable, ominous trend – people are continuing to flock to the cities that risk becoming unlivable due to the climate crisis.
Some of the fastest-growing cities in the US are among those being roasted by record temperatures that are baking more than 100 million Americans under some sort of extreme heat warning. More than a dozen wildfires are engulfing areas from Texas to California and Alaska, with electricity blackouts feared for places where the grid is coming under severe strain.
San Antonio, Texas, which added more to its population than any other US city in the year to July 2021, has already had more than a dozen days over 100F this summer and hit 104F on Tuesday.
Phoenix, Arizona, second on the population growth rankings compiled by the US census, also hit 104F on Tuesday and has suffered a record number of heat-related deaths this year. Meanwhile, Fort Worth, Texas, third on the population growth list, has a “red flag” warning in place amid temperatures that have reached 109F this week.
Cities that stretch across the “sun belt” of the southern and south-western US have in recent years enjoyed population booms, with people lured by the promise of cheap yet expansive properties, warm winters and plentiful jobs, with several large corporations shifting their bases to states with low taxes and cheaper cost of living.
But this growth is now clashing with the reality of the climate emergency, with parts of the sun belt enduring the worst drought in more than 1,000 years, record wildfires and punishing heat that is triggering a range of medical conditions, as well as excess deaths.
“There’s been this tremendous amount
of growth and it’s come with a cost,”
… said Jesse Keenan, an expert in climate adaption at Tulane University. Keenan pointed out that since the 1990s several states have gutted housing regulations to spur development that has now left several cities, such as in Scottsdale, Arizona, struggling to secure enough water to survive. Keenan said …
“The deregulation is really catching up
with communities and they are paying
that price today. We are seeing places
run out of water, no proper subdivision
controls to ensure there are enough trees
to help lower the heat, and lots of low-
density suburbs full of cars that create
air pollution that only gets worse in hot
weather. We’ve reached a crunch point.”
The sprawl of concrete for new housing, mostly within unspooling suburbs rather than contained in dense, walkable neighborhoods, has helped heighten temperatures in many of these growing cities. The spread of hard surfaces has also led to flash flooding, as Houston found to its cost during the devastating Hurricane Harvey in 2017.
Some cities have attempted to respond to the rising temperatures by planting trees, which help cool the surrounding area, and provide emergency centers where people can cool down, but these efforts are often piecemeal and underfunded, according to Sara Meerow, an expert in urban planning at Arizona State University. Meerow said …
“The extreme heat that cities are
experiencing now is caused by a
combination of climate change and
the urban heat island effect. Rapid
urban expansion, which means more
impervious surfaces like roads and
buildings and waste heat from cars
and buildings, typically exacerbates
the urban heat island effect, which
means these cities are even hotter.”
As the US, like the rest of the world, continues to heat up, the climate crisis should become more of a factor when choosing a place to live, with retirees already starting to shun Arizona, traditionally a favored spot for older transplants, according to Keenan. He said …
“We are looking at increased premature
mortality, even increased diabetes because
of dehydration, cardiac impacts and so on.
“Mortgage lenders are starting to look at the
risks of lending somewhere that doesn’t have
a water supply, as that’s not a good investment.
“Capital markets are getting wise to this stuff.
“We are seeing the limits to growth and housing
affordability and the impacts of poor-quality
decision making of where and how to build.
We are paying the price for all that now.”
o o o o o o o o
Trying to live an enjoyable lifestyle in a geography that doesn’t provide for it naturally is like swimming upstream and wondering why we tire so quickly.
By creating our Garden Atriums in a geography that has plenty of rain, we can enjoy a healthy, utility-free lifestyle that’s actually better – more fun, more satisfying – than lifestyles experienced in traditional subdivisions.
Somehow, people think that “Sustainable Living” means compromising their daily quality-of-life experience. Not so ! In fact, while homes traditionally resell every 10-12 years, and more recently every 5-6 years, we had our first Garden Atrium resale in nearly 20 years. Yes, we live with Earth and have almost no utility bills; but we also enjoy a more beautiful and more life-fulfilling environment. Residents really like it here! Adding D’s comments …
“The northern hemisphere is heating up and, in many places, burning up. And it will most likely get worse. With the changes that are occurring, one needs to look at the decisions that each individual needs to consider.
“First, where to live. If you live in a place that is constantly assaulted by climate change, or is running out of water, one must consider, ‘Is it appropriate to stay?’ Leaving a place can be gut-wrenching. And making that decision can be one of the most difficult to make. And yet, with all the changes occurring in climate, it is extremely important to consider.
“Second, one needs to consider how to make your own home easier to survive extremes in temperatures. At a basic level, planting trees will cool the Earth beneath them and next to them. Having less pervious surfaces will also help, because pervious surfaces, such as paving, hold heat.
“Third, think about weather-proofing your home by “super-insulating” it (e.g. R-35 walls, R-78 roof) and using geothermal HVAC. That enables your home to stay temperate, keeping it warmer in winter and cooler in summer.”